Health messages can sometimes fall on deaf ears. But when an artist sends the message, it can add some serious bump to it and makes a better impression on an audience. At a recent event at The Park on Fourteenth, Grammy-nominated R&B artist Luke James performed songs about love. The event was a fundraiser for the Reed For Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises funds for HIV/AIDS awareness. RFHF teamed up with OraSure Technologies to present selected events that spotlight the importance of knowing your HIV status and getting tested. When it was time to host an event in DC, RFHF founder and CEO Robi Reed tapped Mr. James to come perform some of his hits. After his performance, Luke humbly answered questions about health and HIV among young people in an exclusive interview.
How did you get involved with Robi Reed and the Reed For Hope Foundation?
My first time meeting Ms. Robi Reed was at an audition. I got familiar with her after a performance for BET Honors. She's great people. She's always been great to me so I'd do anything for her.
What health issues concern you personally?
Cancer. I have a lot of women around me from my mom to my friends. I think about things that could harm them. HIV is important to me too since people are active. I hope that all of my friends are being safe. I know I am.
Since HIV affects so many people in many walks of life, do you think that artists have an obligation to talk to their audiences about safe sex practices or do you feel like that is a more private matter?
I think that it can be talked about. I think we [artists] are like messengers so we do have some obligation to speak on certain issues that are going on in the world. Safe sex can be hard to talk about sometimes. I hope that my audience is doing the right thing.
What is your message to young "invincibles" like yourself who are sexually active?
Don't be selfish. Protect the ones you love. Protect yourself. Think about the people that love you and want to see you live a long life. Stay away from people and things that can harm you like HIV. Most of all just love yourself.
Check out more about Luke James, his music and his events at www.whoislukejames.com. For more information about The Reed For Hope Foundation, click here. For more information about OraSure Technologies and the first ever In-Home HIV test kit, click here.